On The Road To Damascus

by Maria Vardanyan

Have you ever been on the road to Damascus? I bet  you have or you’re about to start your journey even if you don’t realize it…don’t be surprised because at one point or another, all of us are on the road to Damascus…

Before starting my own journey to Damascus, I was on standby, because I Hated…

A couple of years ago, I hated Armenia. I used to roam the streets of Yerevan and wonder what I was doing there. When my parents took me to a wedding, I thought that they did it to punish me as Armenian music seemed like a method of  torure to me. I hated everything Armenian: the music, the food, even the nature. I thought that I had no future here and if my parents want to ruin my life, they should keep me in Armenia. 

Every single night I used to sleep with the thought of moving to L.A.: as I closed my eyes, I would imagine myself landing at LAX in my Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and getting a yellow NYC cab to Hollywood (stupid I know, I was blonde even before dying my hair), the wind would be blowing through my hair as I would gaze at the Hollywood sign in an awe. Now, the only thing that makes me stare in  awe is a good ol’ juicy hamburger …and handsome men in suits. 

Because…

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it 

“MATURITY”.

This is when my journey to Damascus began,  when I started LOVING..

Only when I got the chance to move to L.A. did I realize how much I love Armenia. As the famous Armenian saying suggests, “Go die and come back, then I will love you,” because most of the time we take for granted what we have and only after losing it we start to see the value of it. Only in L.A. did I realize how good of a life I had back home in Yerevan, where everything is alive. I stopped worrying about my future and how my present actions will affect me 10 years later, as I did before. 

What if I stay in LA and go to the best university but still feel unhappy?

What if I go back to Armenia and ruin my life by losing the potential success that I could achieve in LA?

I stopped worrying about what “ifs”, because…

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it 

“SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

I started wondering what’s the purpose of life: to live every day like it’s your last and create unforgettable moments, which will turn into precious memories, or to achieve something big and unprecedented? Now, I believe that each person has their own kind of happiness and there is no use in searching for the answer because there is no  single right answer, we just have to live and see, because…

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that makes my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it

 “SIMPLICITY”.

I used to overthink and overanalyze every little thing, starting from the way someone greeted me in the morning, up to examining the way that I breathe. I made myself the prisoner of my own mind, I deprived myself from the ability to live in the moment and  enjoy life as it is. I spent so much time thinking of why, who and how that I forgot that the answer is simple…just because…

As told by my dad, “Don’t let anyone or anything disturb your peace of mind,” – a philosophy that I’m learning  to tame because…

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection 

“WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

I overthought every step that I took and every action that I made, as I was worried about the future and succeeding, but in reality all I did was  lose. 

I lost the time that was meant for me to enjoy the present and be thankful for what I already have…

I lost the opportunities that I had in the present because I worried too much about the future…

I lost the ability to see all the beauty that the world has to offer…

But…

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it 

“FULFILLMENT”.

Nowadays, 

We are constantly running…

towards  or from something?

We burden ourselves every day by  thinking…

 the what ifs…

the  right and wrong…

But in reality…

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know 

“THAT IS LIFE”!

Quotes retrieved from Watson. “Charlie Chaplin, as I Began to Love Myself.” Life in the Right Direction, 13 Dec. 2016, https://www.lifeintherightdirection.com/charlie-chaplin-began-to-love-myself/.
 Author ~ The origin of this poem is uncertain.  It is believed to have been written by Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday, however some give credit to Kim & Alison McMilen, for a poem titled, “When I Loved Myself Enough”.

The quest for Nairi or Հայրենաճանաչութիւն

Repeatedly, I ask myself, “what is Nairi?” Each and every time when I eat my heart out to find the answer, someone, a stranger, a ghost from the past appears and asks the wicked question, “Can’t you materialize, to certainly imagine and see the land of Nairi? To make it worldly and tangible, at least in the everyday lives of the people. Maybe there is no Nairi: it is a lie. Maybe it is a memory, a fiction, a myth.” 
I don’t know the answers. I only know that it existed and still exists; it is in my old-blood. I feel its existence but when I want to visualize Nairi, it disappears like a chimera… 
Dear reader, I will leave it to you. Find Nairi.

Yeghishe Charents, 
Translated by Shushi

An American scientist named Mark Leary discovered that the need to belong is as important as satisfying the survival needs. Another scientist Benedict Anderson found out that a nation or national identity is a non-material and imaginary cultural phenomenon.
I consider myself an Armenian. If my beloved “imagined community” and I occupy the territory of Armenia, logically the imagined Armenian community should satisfy my need to belong. But it does not. Things are easy for war veterans; they visualize both their country and the community. And the government’s supporters belong to Nikol’s Hayastan. Even the extremist Dashnaktsakans, that have a nationalistic ideology, are in relatively tolerable condition. At least they know that the liberation of historical lands will satisfy their belongingness. Sometimes I envy these people. The only thing that I certainly know is that I belong to Nairi. But what is my Nairi? Is it merely Hayastan, a small, corrupted country? No! But where is it? What is it? To find Nairi, maybe I should change my perception of Hayastan, or try to find her outside the borders of Armenia.
Dear Charents, I will start my search for Nairi. I should discover to what I belong to. I should discover myself.

My first attempt: Nairi within the borders of Armenia.

In the past few centuries, Syuniq and Artsakh were the most historically important parts of Eastern Armenia. So maybe Nairi is hidden somewhere there in LernaHayastan. The place where the brave rebels fought for independence for centuries.

 I should leave everything in Yerevan in order to go and check. 

The only possible road to Syuniq is the Yerevan-Goris road. Initially, the dilapidated road from Yerevan to Goris was included in the highway investment project, which would connect northern and southern parts of Armenia. But, thanks to the corruption and the oligarchy, we will never know what it feels like to drive through a wonderful nature on smooth concrete roads. I began to contemplate: is it possible for the Nairian roads to have so many imperfections and failures? No, Nairi should not be humbling.

After entering Syuniq I stopped paying attention to road failures. The marshrutka stopped and my friend and I walked onto the main road and started hitchhiking for the first time in our lives. Many drivers, especially young men would slow down, stare at us and continue on with their path. 

If we compose one Nairian unit, equally important for the whole, and if the Nairian men respect women, why should they make us feel embarrassed? It is impossible in Nairi. There I will be able to freely walk, without anyone disturbing me. 

We gathered our courage and stuck out our thumbs. The first car, a  Haypost messenger, stopped. For thirty minutes, the driver was sharing his personal stories about traveling all the time, and knowing every corner of Hayastan. I did not ask him about Nairi. I was confident that Nairian people are like him – kind and loving. The man seemed to be a transparent bond between Nairi and me. I was getting closer to it. He took us to the place where the main road and the one to Tatev diverged. There, we said goodbye to the messenger and continued on our way to Tatev. 

It was 6 PM, the traffic flow was getting slower, and we had to wait for ten minutes until finding our next car.

We ended up in a car with two young boys. During the entire ride, they were asking us if our parents had allowed us to hitchhike and stay over at an unknown village. After hearing the same answer five times, they agreed that our unusual lifestyle can be fun. Although Tatev was not on the way to their destination, the boys took us there. We stopped in Halidzor to see the marvelous nature and the millennium-old abandoned villages of Vorotan valley. 

 Maybe Halidzor incorporates some elements of Nairi. In my imagination, like in Halidzor, at the peak of the steep mountains of Nairian villages, you will find churches and small houses. Like in Halidzor, in Nairi small shrubs will grow on rocky outcrops. In villages, people will live in harmony with nature. But the Nairian villages will not be abandoned. Halidzor does not look like a flourishing community. I am afraid to associate Nairi with Halidzor. I have a better image of Nairi. 

Maybe Nairi was left in Western Armenia…

My second attempt: Nairi in the lost homeland

So, it started with lunch in Kars,  Kurdish populated city. Kars was the second biggest city of Bagratuni Kingdom and the hometown of Charents. After lunch, we went out to see the Kümbet Mosque, I mean the former Holy Apostles Church of Kars. The only special thing about the mosque was that the Muslims had polished Armenian floral crosses carved into the walls. The crosses were converted into three-armed ornaments that mean nothing within Islam. After wandering in the streets of Kars and seeing typical Armenian architectural buildings made of black basalt with narrow windows and Armenian letters on their facades, and walking on the mysterious Vardan’s bridge – the remnants of Nairi – nothing else was left. I am sorry to say this, but, Charents, no one will ever meet Karine in the streets of Kars. 

The next destination was Ani.

Ani is a famous tourist destination in Turkey, not only for Armenians but also for foreigners. The first thing you see while approaching the city is the strong fortress and the high towers. Back in the medieval era, the watchers were standing in the towers, and the bells of a thousand churches were ringing simultaneously to call the Anetsiner or Ani’s residents for prayer. 

Try to imagine that once the bells were ringing. There is no pathos in it. What is left nowadays? The churches don’t have domes anymore. They are crumbling away. The carved stones covered with lichen are scattered everywhere. One day, the miserable city will vanish away, burying with it part of Nairi, that we were not strong enough to maintain.

 Hayk, the guide, approached me and said, “According to the legend, the architect of the fortress buried his wife alive in the fortress.”

“Why he would do that?” I answered. 

“They could not build the fortress. The walls were collapsing, the huge pieces were falling onto the Akhurian river. So, the builders decided to bury the graceful woman with long braids in the fortress. Instead of concrete, they used eggs for the base. That is why the fortress is standing for a millennium.”

I did not respond to him. The architect, the beloved nymph, sad smiles, destiny, and sacrifice – the images were flowing in my mind. No, it is just a legend. Nowadays, we cannot build anything similar, can we? That is why we create legends. Let us believe in them. 

I used to believe that we left the real Nairi outside the borders of Armenia. But there I was the unrightful owner of Nairian heritage. The official name of Nairi is Turkey, maybe after a few decades, it will become Kurdistan. That has no importance anymore. 

Should I tell you what I felt in Aghtamar – the only place that kept the past magnificence of its external walls adorned with biblical scenes? It was like being an unwelcome guest in your parent’s house, where you spent your childhood. You enter, you see your toys and your childhood memories flash in front of your eyes. The house looks the same, no major changes have occurred. But you realize the house does not belong to you anymore and it has new owners. The owner, a Kurdish child, is calling you “haram” or illicit in your own house. What can I say? My Nairian fathers, you built the house for me, but I am not welcomed there anymore. I understand. I should move on, forget about everything, but a thick thread connects me with the house. 

What is the thread if not the illusion that we have been cultivating for centuries as the  “imagined community?” 

Charents, I found the answer. Nairi is the road from Yerevan to Goris, the sexist drivers, Charents, me, you, our powerlessness to protect Ani. Nairi is not a land. Nairi is an illness, the homesickness that you experience because of your inability to stop searching for a better house and accepting the way things are.  Nairi is the past, but don’t let it define the future. 

Confessions of an Alien Person

By Tamara Bayakhchiyants

In my childhood, I never thought about the fact that I could notably differ from other kids. I was a calm child who loved books, seesaws and TV programs more than communication with other children. Back then, I was a very open person, always smiling and laughing. I even wonder how my behavior switched to a radically calm mood as I grew up. I frequently said things that even adults would not have the courage to speak about in public, and all the people near me lost their breath due to laughter. But despite all of this, never had I ever thought that I am the “other” for this society.

I hear certain questions addressed to me from time to time from various people, starting from my relatives and ending with less familiar people, sometimes in the form of rumors. They include the following:

“You’re Armenian; why are you mostly speaking Russian?”

“Why don’t you wear skirts and dresses? Why are you always in your jeans?”

“Why are you speaking and thinking so slowly?”

“Why aren’t you as sociable as normal people are?”

“Why are you so polite toward others? Don’t you see others are laughing at you?”

“What’s so special about politics that you like it?”

“Why are you so smart?”

And the most irritating one: “This girl is way too strange!”

Each time I face these questions, I begin to think: what’s so abnormal with my behavior that people tend to treat me like an alien?

Artist: Tamara Bayakhchiyants

It actually was society, some people who do not deserve even the slightest mention from me, who anchored me in a stereotype that I am “strange”. I suffered from this a lot in my school years: I used to cry in front of my mother, saying that no one understands me in this world. I often had conflicts with my parents at that time, shouting that I want to commit suicide. My mother said, “You’re not brave enough to take such a step,” yet she cried in her pillow the times I was not at home. “You don’t look like our family member,” my parents used to say, and my father added, “You are one whole disadvantage.” It was only in my 16 years that I learned to accept myself, my interests, mindset and behavior, my advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, I found a way to live in harmony with my inner world, not paying much attention to what other people think about me.

As I grow into adulthood and interact with the greater society more, I sometimes think what exactly I should change in my behavior to adapt to the public world. Even now, feeling more comfortable being a part of society, I find some difficulties communicating with people. I do not want to interrupt the private space of others, knowing that they don’t care about me and maybe don’t even like me. I only maintain long conversations with those people who I feel would be interested to learn more about me. With others, being polite to a radical extent is the only way for me to make them think somewhat positively about me. I don’t have any other tools to make them like me, because I am just too different from them. I don’t speak Armenian that well, don’t think like most Armenians, and I have interests that are radically different from common Armenian themes.

I am 75% Armenian, but I also have 25% of Russian blood flowing through my veins. Sometimes I feel that this 25% of Russianness speaks more about my personality that the fact I am Armenian. Don’t get me wrong: I love my native city Yerevan, and I know lots of wonderful people who are future leaders of Armenian society. However, in my childhood, I had trouble acknowledging my Armenian origins. I used to go to a pre-school college where most of the children spoke Armenian, and I hadn’t managed to befriend any of them. Later, in my Russian school in Yerevan, we had to retell stories in Armenian starting from the second year. A person not understanding Armenian at all, I had a hard time doing my Armenian classes.

When I was 11-12 years old, I dreamt of moving to Russia, where all people speak my native language. Now I feel so happy that I stayed in Armenia and started my university studies here. During my four university years, I changed my attitude toward my home country and my Armenian identity. I feel that building connections with my “Armenian self” has been essential to making my personality wholesome. But I still don’t think that I fit perfectly into the local society.

People in Armenia seem to look awry at those whose way of thinking, talking or expressing themselves differs from a “normal behavior” or “normal thinking.” People think that if I don’t wear skirts and dresses, it means that I don’t have enough confidence in my body. What if I regularly wear jeans just because I feel like myself in it, think that it’s a part of my identity? They wonder why I speak slowly – well, why should I talk fast? My voice had been formed during my child communication with my family, and I simply cannot change it. As tons of thoughts cloud my mind, sometimes it takes even longer time for me to respond to a question. But it doesn’t mean that I am a jerk, as other people think. You wonder why I speak Russian? Because it’s my native language – that simple. And I like politics because I feel that this particular interest fits well with my identity, and my involvement in politics had helped me to understand what I want to achieve in this world. If I feel comfortable with my personality, why should I change it for the sake of those not even caring about me?

I never judge people based on their nationality, race, sexual orientation, mindsets, intellectual capabilities, and ways of talking, dressing or expressing themselves. However, I do pay attention to several things when looking at others. These things are the ways an individual treats others, the ways he talks to them or about them. I consider myself an open-minded person, though it is not evident from first sight. And I want other people to be more friendly, tolerant, and to have more respect for those who do not look, behave or think like them. And to those people who ask why I am that strange: I DON’T KNOW, SHUT YOUR DIRTY MOUTHS! Can’t you be more inclusive and have more respect toward other people? Remember that no one wants to communicate with people who say unpleasant things behind his back!

Behind the Post-Soviet Bread Lines

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. “

Nelson Mandela

Armenia is big if you compare all the villages it has and all the love that people in the villages are willing to give compared to the rest of the world. Driving through the villages in Armenia is the same as changing the pages of a book; the look is the same, but the content is entirely different.
It was one of the days when I would go to the villages to mentor School Student Councils. That was one of the reasons that connected me with the people in the villages, including my community, Karakert. Our car that was driving from Karakert to the nearest village of Shenik was in complete silence even though old Soviet 06 Zhiguly cars can never be quiet. We passed by apricot fields, grape vineyards, and hills that were as grey and lifeless as ashes. The only colorful thing on the mountain was a piece of clothing that people hang on the leafless trees to show the road towards the chantry. The chantry was what connected the two villages when the post-USSR crisis hit the streets of Armenia, and people didn’t have money to build churches.


Our car gazed by the chantry, leaving the red cloth on the ground. We usually make a cross three times when passing by a chantry and a church – for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. My uncle E. did it six times.
Uncle E. is a believer. He believes in not only God but also people. He always taps his hand on my shoulder and tells me how proud he is. He always tells me that I motivate him to be more and to do more. He flattens me until my cheeks turn red like cherries, and my eyes don’t look up until he is gone.


“Do you see those hills?” he said. His question snapped me out of my thoughts, and I started cluelessly looking outside the window. “I know all these hills by heart. You can close my eyes, and I’ll go back home without my eyes open,” he continued. “I certainly doubt that,” I thought. Him going home eyes closed is yet another myth about uncle E.’s capabilities. “Wow, that’s unbelievable! How did you master that?” I said and started giggling at the idea of him walking home eyes closed. Then he said, “Eh because I have cried here for thousands of times.” It struck me because my uncle has always told us that he is ‘weak at heart.’ If he cried here, it means there is something behind it. When I gave him the go, I noticed a huge sign slip through and realized that I was going to be the first person who would know about this.


“I’d come here to cry! If I tell this to your uncle A, he will laugh at me and call me weak, but I’m not. I just got so mad seeing my brainless classmates studying at universities while my destiny was being a shepherd,” he said and stopped the car by the grape vineyards on the road t Shenik. Then he turned his ocean blue eyes to the eternity of the sky. The sky was the memory book, the witness of his tears years ago.
My mother always told me that uncle E always studied well. He would read the assigned books days before the deadline and would experiment with chemistry as if it was a game. He was the best in his class and at school. His daily reading amount was never encouraged by his parents because they were scared he would lose his sight because of that. Every Armenian mother believes if the child reads much, they will be. “I would bring the cows here. Someone had to do it, right? I would hide my books inside the bag my mom put with me. She had no idea that together with the small piece of bread, which I always forgot to eat, I had three or four books. She never knew how heavy my bag was when I left,” he said while being so proud of his actions at the time.


“Wasn’t there anything you could do?” I asked hopelessly. I wasn’t expecting him to be a giver. I wanted him to win the battle in his story. He was not the winner, and that was disappointing. “I couldn’t. We either had to go work in the field for 1000 dram per day, which we would use to buy bread for the family or take care of the animals. I usually choose to shepherd because I had a chance to read, at least,” he said while looking down at his hands that were nervously playing with the piece of paper that he had in his hand. There was a two or three-minute silence, and I didn’t know how to break it. I was lost. His every word was painful; his every memory threatened to come back.


“We were very poor. I remember my graduation ceremony, to which I went to with someone else’s suit. After the ceremony, I came home with shorts because I had to give back everything borrowed from our neighbors and relatives,” he finished his sentence, and I could already fill the tears in my eyes. This was pure sadness, anger, regret, and disbelief. In a world where a single suit costs thousands and in a school environment where there are eyes on you everywhere, I could not imagine the situations he went through.


Suddenly, the sun came out and hit his eyes. He closed his eyes for a minute, and I saw a small teardrop, which, of course, he pretended never happened. “With every single rock that I would recognize in these hills was a part of a dream that crashed. My goal to study, to become an educated person became an impossible dream. The helplessness to do anything to study was killing me inside,” he signed. It was hard for him to talk, and I didn’t want to, and I felt it. His voice changed; he became more defensive and kept thinking that I will blame him for being weak and less courageous.
He wanted but never got a chance to study. Instead, he went to Russia right after the Army, letting the entire book and the knowledge eat him from the inside until he finally accepted his faith and came back to Armenia, only 20 years later. “I could have been so much more than a khopanchi (people who leave for Russia for work).” He turned on the car, and the hills that were so familiar to him were behind us. Our car was in complete silence, even though Soviet 06 Zhiguly cars can never be quiet.


“Was there a time you fell in love with someone, uncle?” I asked. “I never had the time Khan. I was always working. Besides, when one of your dreams is destroyed, you start doubting others as well.”


The car stopped. My eyes were all red. I was a step away from bursting into tears. I didn’t because I had no right to feel sorry for him. He is a hero because even after living in Russia for so many years, he came back. He was the hero because he was strong enough to still live in a village that reminds him of his every broken dream. He is the hero because after we stopped, he told me to smile and tell those kids who are waiting for me in front of the school that they should never give up learning because they can be so much more than their parents are right now.


I opened the door and went inside the school to teach those kids that they can be more than they dream of.

*For those who are given the powerful weapon called education, please appreciate it and use it correctly because many people dream about what you have.

Luse’s dream

by Ani Galstyan

“Get dressed, we are going on an adventure,” she used to say this to me every time she wanted to challenge herself. She raised me every time I fell. She encouraged me. She believed in me whenever no one else did. Her name is Luse. The most beautiful name I have ever heard of. That name was just perfect for her. It was as beautiful and sweet as she was.

Luse was by my side no matter what, every time I looked at her, I couldn’t get enough of her. I could hardly believe that I managed to make friends with someone like her. “Lus, what will you do if one day we get separated from each other. Whom are you going to turn to every time you need advice?” I used to ask her frequently. “Do not even think about it. We will always be best friends, no matter what happens.” Whenever I heard her words, I became peaceful and confident that we really would never have to say goodbye to each other one day. Little did we know that there was so little time remaining for us to enjoy each others’ company. I guess our journey together was not destined to last long.

We were 16, full of dreams and goals. One of Luse’s biggest dreams was to visit France and see the Louvre. She was into art, and everything related to art was so precious for her. Her biggest goal, though, was to study in France. It seemed like her big dream was about to come true. She called me with excitement perfectly reflected in her voice. Luse announced the big news, “An, I am going to Paris. Can you believe it? I got admitted to my dream school, Toulouse University.” My eyes felt with tears. I could not identify whether those were tears of happiness or pain. From one side, I was very happy for my best friend, as it was a dream-come-true for her. From the other hand, I felt that I would lose her.

I would not be able to hug her tight whenever I would have exciting news. She would not clean the tears off my face, whenever I would be sad. Then I came back from my thoughts and screamed so loudly that everyone heard me. I told Luse how happy I was for her because her happiness was also my happiness. “Lus, you are going to live your dream. I am so proud of you.” These were the only words I was able to express even though I was about to choke. It seemed like something was stuck in my throat. I did not understand what was wrong with me. I didn’t realize why I became so emotional.

Since that day, Luse was smiling all the time. She kept imagining her life in France and kept on making plans she was going to realize there. It was the first time I saw her so happy and full of joy. “An, I am sure that one day you will achieve your dreams as I did. Just remember that whatever happens, I am by your side and I will always support you, no matter where I am. Distance won’t ever matter,” she said. Believe it or not, she was an inspiration for me. Her words gave me hope and belief that I can achieve anything.

It was the day before her flight. Words are not enough to express how happy she was. We packed her luggage together. When I was folding her clothes to put them in the suitcase, I found a small red box. After getting her permission, I opened it. I froze for a second. Luse had kept all the important items we had created during our friendship. She had kept the doll that I had made for her. I made it for an art class and gave it to her for her birthday. She had kept the leaves we had dried together in remembrance of the day that we first traveled alone. There were tiny pieces of papers, where we had written down all the crazy dreams we had thought of. When we were younger, we were told that if you passionately want something to happen, write it down on a piece of paper. After reading them, my eyes felt with tears. I looked at her with unbearable pain in my stomach. I hugged her tighter than I had ever done.

It was already evening. We both were lying down on her bed, looking at the ceiling that had an angel painting on it. “An, is this the last day that we are going to spend together? Is this really the end?” she said. “Lus, you are living for four years. Do not act like you are leaving forever.” She looked at me and smiled. I could see tears in her eyes. “Lus, you do not look like yourself. Where is my strong and brave Luse who kept supporting me in everything?” I could tell something was going on with her, but I failed to understand what it was. “An, please, do not let me cry. I am scared,” she said. I thought she had mixed feelings because it was her first time leaving the country by herself. I did not say anything and just hugged her.

The day came. I went to the airport with her family. I could not speak as my tears were stuck in my throat. We said goodbye to each other, and she left, without looking behind. She had successfully landed and was settled up in her dorm. When I talked to her, she seemed very happy. We always kept in touch and did not go to sleep without saying goodbye. It seemed like distance really didn’t matter.

It was the fifth day since she was in France. Like every single day, that day as well, I waited for her good morning text. I called her but got no response. At first, I was worried, as this had never happened before. Then I realized that she might be busy with studies and might not have time for texting me. It was already night time. I called her parents, and it turned out she hadn’t called them as well. I tried to call everyone who might have any connection with Luse. It was pointless. I still didn’t have any news about her. I felt that something was wrong. I knew that she would not spend a day without sending a single text to me. That night seemed endless. It was finally morning. The first thing I did in the morning was to check my phone. Still, no messages. At that moment, my mom walked in. She was pale, and her hands were shivering. “What’s wrong mom? Are you okay?” I asked. She could not hide her tears. Then I knew that something was going on, and it was connected with Luse.

I wasn’t wrong. Tragedy had happened. “Luse was in a car accident,” my mom said. For a moment, I froze. I could not feel my hands and feet. I did not show any emotions. I sat down still. I wasn’t strong enough to tell my mom to tell me the worst, “Luse passed away. Doctors could not save her life.” I knew since that moment that my life would not be the same anymore.

I kept my promise. I did not let her cry. But she didn’t. She not only let me cry but also she took a part of my soul with her.